PC Gamer is now rerunning celebrated articles from a decade ago, so I guess that means we can rereport on them! Up on deck today is Richard Cobbett's big retrospective on the Wing Commander Academy animated series. It was part of his original Crapshoot column and delves into the history of the franchise with a focus on the show. He walks through the pilot and gives a number of examples that illustrate what made the cartoon stand out in the crowd. I don't recall his scorn for certain products like WC Prophecy, but that's beside the point. The one inaccuracy that does need to be pointed out is that the show is available on DVD now. This piece was written in April 2011, and in September 2011 we found out the series was to be released on disc. Amazingly, it's still in print, and Amazon carries it for just $8. I guess they'll keep making it if we keep buying it. If you don't have a copy in your collection, be sure to scoop one up - someday they won't be so easy to come by and fans will regret owning a set of their own! Check out the article here.Perhaps most notably, the usual cartoon rule that everything has to be wrapped up nicely by the end of every episode… is not in force. Academy isn’t afraid to end stories on a downer, or present war as something other a cheery, glorious adventure. In one early episode for instance, one of the main cast has to blow up a comrade who recently declared his love for her. In another, a legendary hero turns out to have taken a turn towards Nietzsche. In others, the show plays with the fact that the cast – as fighter and bomber pilots – aren’t privvy to the high-level tactical decisions being made elsewhere on the ship, and often have very distorted ideas of what they’re risking their lives for. None of this is desperately earthshaking for fiction as a whole, but for this timeslot, it’s good stuff. It’s also a rare case where this kind of spin-off has both slipped into canon, and generally been embraced by the fans.
Fun show. Sometimes, spin-offs really do get it right.